We live in a world of inspirational speakers, inspiring messages, and an increased focus on self improvement – physically, mentally, and emotionally. We’ve become more aware of how our everyday stress affects us, and we’re taking active steps toward improving our overall health so we can perform at peak capacity.

Digital technology allows us to continually take inventory of our physical health. We pride ourselves on monitoring our daily activity, while wearing our Fitbits, Apple watches, or Garmin trackers that encourage us to park a little farther away or spend an extra few minutes on the elliptical.

We post our workout stats on social media, compete with friends to see whose workout was more intense, and meticulously log meals within MyFitnessPal. While we continue to improve our physical health we’re also seeking out ways to improve our mental health.

Mental health is a worldwide issue that is projected to cost the global economy over $16 trillion USD by 2030. The shortage of trained mental health professionals coupled with the stigma of mental illness creates a unique barrier to treatment.

Companies are now finding innovative ways to leverage digital technology to bring cost-effective and private solutions to our most common mental health issues – from workday stress to ongoing ailments.

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Remember to Breathe

Our lives are busy. Our workdays are filled with meetings, deadlines and calls while our evenings are filled with errands, household chores, family. If we’re lucky, we can squeeze in a quick catch up with friends.

This can all be extremely overwhelming – especially if you’re not already in the business of self-care. Many of us don’t realize the tension we carry day in and day out or that we sometimes forget to breathe. Deep breathing is considered an effective way to deal with stress and can reduce emotional exhaustion.

Apple found a way to gently remind us to take a moment to inhale the good and exhale the bad through their Breathe app on the Apple Watch. A circular graphic expands and retracts as a visual aid, while small taps on the wrist help to guide breathing.

If you don’t have an Apple Watch, not to worry, there are many apps that walk you through guided meditation. Headspace and Calm teach individuals how to meditate and have free and paid versions of their apps.


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Managing Your Mental Health

We log our food so why not log our mood? Thanks to digital technology, managing and monitoring our mood throughout the day is as easy as logging into an app on our phones.

Sanvello, Moodpath, and Youper all offer mood tracking coupled with exercises and games that utilize proven therapy techniques such as Cognitive Therapy (CBT) to provide relief from depression and anxiety.

 


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Telepsychiatry and AI Powered Chatbots

As digital technology within the mental health space continues its growth we’re seeing real changes in how we receive relief from our symptoms.

Psychologists and psychiatrists are now available through telepsychiatry applications, allowing individuals access to licensed professionals and doctors from the comfort of their homes.

Video conference appointments improve access to mental healthcare in undeserved areas that may have a shortage of mental health professionals.

AI powered chatbots offer a way for users to engage in a text chat with emotionally intelligent chatbots that use techniques such as CBT to help teach users new coping skills, and provide relief from loneliness – all from your phone.

Woebot and Replika are just two of the many chatbots that offer privacy and help powered by artificial intelligence.


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Implications for the Future

The advent of mental health applications and services within the digital space allow individuals to have more control over how they manage all aspects of their health.

The ability to track mood, learn new coping techniques or reinforce old ones from the convenience of a smartphone has positive implications for the future.

These cost-effective approaches to mental health management provide greater access to care to those in areas where mental health providers are limited in number and financial limitations create barriers to care.

The convenience of managing mental health from devices we utilize daily allows us to be more proactive in keeping our minds just as healthy as our bodies.